Illustrated Architecture Dictionary .............. Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary

Palm / Palmette
pal MET

Egyptian palm capital
Palmette as part of anthemion


Palm capital: A type of Egyptian capital resembling the spreading crown of a palm tree

Palmette: An ornament derived from a palm leaf

Anthemion / Honeysuckle ornament: A common Greek ornament based upon the honeysuckle or palmette. Used singly on stela or antefixes, or as a running ornament onfiriezes, etx.

Tower of Winds Order

Plate VII, Chapter III, Volume I, Antiquities of Athens, by Stuart and Revett.
"With its single row of acanthus leaves surrounding a single row of palm leaves, the capital is a simplified version of the Greek Corinthian order, and has become known commonly as the Tower of the Winds order."

- Calder Loth, Classical Comments: Tower of the Winds Order  (Online Dec. 2012)

The palmette is a motif in decorative art which, in its most characteristic expression, resembles the fan-shaped leaves of a palm tree.

It has a far-reaching history, originating in Ancient Egypt with a subsequent development through the art of most of Eurasia, often in forms that bear relatively little resemblance to the original. In Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman uses it is also known as the anthemion (from the Greek ανθέμιον, a flower). It is found in most artistic media, but especially as an architectural ornament, whether carved or painted, and painted on ceramics. It is very often a component of the design of a frieze or border.

The palmette is related to a range of motifs in differing cultures and periods. In ancient Egypt palmette motifs existed both as a form of flower and as a stylized tree, often referred to as a Tree of Life.


It is thought that the palmette originated in ancient Egypt, and was originally based on features of various flowers, including the papyrus and the lotus or lily representing lower and upper Egypt and their fertile union, before it became associated with the palm tree.

"Palms were associated with Upper Egypt, fertility, and with the goddesses Hathor and Nut: they were especially sacred to Re, for the branches resembled that deity's high crown. Palm-trees with double or triple trunks were symbolically linked with Min and Thoth. A palm-leaf signified a year, and if worn as a head-dress, signified longevity or even eternity." - James Stevens Curl, The Egyptian Revival: Glossary - Capitals

The fleur de lis, which became a potent and enigmatic emblem of the divine right of kings, said to have been bestowed on early French kings by an angel, evolved in Egypt and Mesopotamia as a variant of the palmette


A palmette is called an anthemion in Greek architecture

One of the chief elements in the classical Greek anthemion. One type of ancient Greek palmette resembles honeysuckle flowers, another is more like a palm leaf. Both were used in bands of anthemion ornament.

An early Corinthian capital has only one row of acanthus leaves with an upper row of palm leaves.

Found in classical Greek and Roman architecture and derivatives, including Beaux Arts Classicism Federal, Georgian Revival, Greek Revival, Neoclassicism, Renaissance Revival, Second Empire


Found in furniture, Persian rugs, and in classical moldings, reliefs, frescoes, and vase paintings

Examples from Buffalo architecture:

Other examples:

Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
..| ...Home Page ...| ..Buffalo Architecture Index...| ..Buffalo History Index...| .. E-Mail ...| ..